An exhibition 1,300 years in the making – Lindisfarne Gospels Durham
(2 July 2012)
In the summer of 2013 one of the world’s greatest books, the Lindisfarne Gospels, will be on show in a unique exhibition in Durham University’s Palace Green Library.
The exhibition is part of a partnership between Durham University, Durham Cathedral, Durham County Council and the British Library.
The must-see exhibition, in the heart of Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site will take the form of a compelling new contemporary interpretation of one of the nation’s most enduring stories, the tale of the North’s most famous saint - St Cuthbert, and one of the world’s greatest books – the Lindisfarne Gospels.
Housed in new world-class facilities, the forthcoming exhibition – which will run from July 1 to September 30, 2013- represents the closest and most vivid way for centuries, to experience the wonder of the Lindisfarne Gospels.
The 12-month countdown to the exhibition began with a special performance by the first voices of the newly formed Lindisfarne Gospels Community Choir. The choir, including children from the Durham Cathedral Young Singers, will perform a piece entitled “On Eagle’s Wings” – the eagle is the symbol used to represent St John within the Lindisfarne Gospels.
In 2013 a significantly enlarged choir will give a special performance in Durham to mark the exhibition opening, and begin a region-wide celebration of creativity and heritage in North East England, inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels. The supporting events programme will feature exhibitions and performances, art and music, workshops and conferences, pilgrimages and retreats, originating from as far afield as Holy Island, York and Cumbria.
Dr Keith Bartlett, Programme Director Lindisfarne Gospels, said: “Lindisfarne Gospels Durham is the most eagerly anticipated event in the regional cultural calendar for 2013. The exhibition is a tremendous vehicle to showcase the heritage, spirituality and creativity of the North East. The exhibition has fired the imagination of individuals and organisations across the North who are planning Lindisfarne Gospels inspired events.”
The Lindisfarne Gospels and the St Cuthbert Gospel - Europe’s oldest surviving bound book - and other medieval treasures will be on loan from the British Library, following a special partnership that has been agreed between the North East and the national institution.
Dr Claire Breay, Lead Curator Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts, at the British Library, said: “The British Library is delighted to be working in partnership with the North East to bring these world heritage treasures to Durham. Together, the Lindisfarne Gospels and the St Cuthbert Gospel help us interpret Britain during a time of great change when a new national identity and new forms of learning, literature and art were emerging. The Library is pleased that so many people from across the region will be able to appreciate the artistry, craftsmanship and beauty of these unique treasures, which were the masterpieces of their time and even after 1,300 years retain the power to inspire wonder and awe.”
Containing the works of the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as they recount the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the Lindisfarne Gospels represent both the core of Christian belief and, in their creation, one of the greatest landmarks of human cultural achievement.
The exhibition explains exactly how and why this masterpiece was created, with some of Britain’s most significant medieval manuscripts displayed alongside stunning Anglo-Saxon treasures drawn from national collections as well as those of Durham Cathedral and Durham University. The exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to view St Cuthbert’s treasures including his jewelled cross, sapphire ring and travelling altar displayed alongside the book that was written in his honour.
The experience is incomplete without a visit to the Shrine of St Cuthbert within Durham Cathedral, voted “Britain’s best loved building”. Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to enjoy tours of Durham Castle, home to Durham University’s University College, which is also situated on the World Heritage Site.
More information about the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition can be found at www.lindisfarnegospels.com. People are urged to sign up to the e-newsletter to receive updates on the exhibition and to find out when tickets go on sale.